WNF Industry News

Wales Nuclear Forum: Industry News, keeping you informed of important updates and informative information in the sector.

MARCH 2020

An open letter from Wyn Roberts, Head of Nuclear

Ein cyf/Our ref

To All Wales Nuclear Forum Members

26 March 2020

Dear Member,

I write to you to try and reassure you as Welsh Nuclear Forum members that the Welsh Government is working hard to put in place a series of measures to complement and add value to those put forwards by the UK Government to support business during this unprecedented time of uncertainty generated by the Covid19 crisis.

We as a Nuclear Team have been in touch with a number of members over the past week to try and determine how the crisis is currently affecting you and to try and get a feel as to how the sector as a whole is being impacted.

If you are not already aware, information on what help there may be available to businesses in Wales is contained on the Business Wales website which has a wealth of information on the support available including further information on the loan and equity funding accessible via the Development Bank for Wales. The UK Government also supports UK-wide support schemes and the links below will take you to further information on specific subject areas:

Business Wales

Information on support provided via the Welsh Government, including Business Rate Relief and Business Grant Schemes https://businesswales.gov.wales/government-support-businesses https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice

Development Bank of Wales

Information of services available via the Development Bank of Wales https://developmentbank.wales/

UK Government Business Support


HMRC also has a Coronavirus helpline for businesses and self-employed people and is available on 0800 0159 559.

UK Government guidance to employers and businesses about Covid-19 including information and guidance on areas such as Statutory Sick Pay, advice for employees which have travelled to high risk areas and home working


We understand that most businesses are entering an extremely challenging period. Given the severity of this crisis, it is possible that we may not be able to help individual businesses with unique concerns, but will do our level best to ensure common issues across the sector or to groups of businesses involved in particular areas of nuclear are supported and hopefully addressed.

Please also get in touch if you have any issues you think that we can assist you with beyond the assistance available via the Business Wales above – our contact details are attached below.

Finally, we as a team hope that you and your employees stay healthy and well. We will overcome this challenging period for us all and move forward.

Wyn Roberts – wyn.roberts@gov.wales – 077 69 883236

Richard James – richard.james@gov.wales – 077 96 991279

Laurence Smith – laurence.smith@gov.wales – 078 10 448662




Wyn Roberts

Head of Nuclear


Welding of Steam Pipe In Nuclear Application

The planned surge in new electricity power generation plant and refits across the world brings with it a demand for improvements in welding technology. This demand will be met by innovative developments in welding equipment to ensure consistently better quality joints, many of which are in the safety critical class.

All the programmes involve extensive fabrication of high-pressure steel pipes and tubes, the welding of which presents particular challenges.

The high pressures and temperatures used in steam generation circuits necessitate the use of creep resistant steels such as those based on chromium/ molybdenum/ vanadium alloys. These materials provide improved oxidation and corrosion resistance together with high strength and are widely used in both fossil fuel and nuclear power plants.

The demand for quality in all these safety critical joints is reflected in the stringent regulations laid down in welding procedures. Nevertheless, some welding practices can result in significant reduction both in corrosion resistance and mechanical strength.

Welding of high-pressure steam pipe

Some engineering alloys are prone to cracking during welding. Industry sectors having to overcome this problem are principally in the power generation sector and include low and medium alloy steels that have been specially developed for their high strength. Metallurgists have learned that heating the joint prior to and after welding (pre-heating and post-heating) can reduce the sensitivity to cracking quite significantly. It involves temperatures in the region of 200°C although this may be much higher for certain materials 3, 4, 5, 6.

Welding is one process that is widely used during manufacture. This affects the microstructure. Preheating, maintaining inter-pass temperatures, and post-weld heat treatment procedures are very critical for these creep resistant alloys. Failure to follow the procedures can result in catastrophic failures in service.

The preferred welding procedures in this type of fabrication are GTAW and GMAW and these offer protection of the exposed upper fusion zone. The joint around the underbead however needs to be protected by purging – the protection of exposed metal by applying a local inert gas atmosphere.

Meeting the requirements of inert gas purging when temperatures exceeding 200ºC are involved necessitates the use of purge systems capable of withstanding these temperatures throughout the heating and welding cycles. Typical thermal cycles can exceed 2 hours and it may be necessary to maintain the purge system in place throughout.

Purging system requirements

Specially engineered purge products have been designed over the past five years that are capable of withstanding the temperatures involved whilst at the same time maintaining adequate gas sealing characteristics. They are also rugged enough to survive multiple-use applications. These products are manufactured from thermally stable engineering polymers and can be provided with advanced gas valve control systems.

Few manufacturers are able to supply weld purging systems that can be used at the high temperatures prevailing during pre- and post-heating but some commercially available systems have been designed specifically to meet the requirements (Fig 1).

However, it is clear that many companies still employ paper, cardboard and polystyrene foam as dam materials. These are prone to outgassing during use, they are difficult to insert and remove and may even ignite at the prevailing temperatures.

FIG 1 Hotpurge® 7 systems cover the diameter range from 150 to 2440 mm. These systems are capable of withstanding temperatures up to 300°C for 24 hours. The inflatable seals are manufactured from flexible, thermally resistant engineering polymers.

Weld Purging Techniques

The most effective devices are those based on connected inflatable dams

The inert gas input can be programmed to control gas flow and pressure during inflation and purging and once placed in position require little more input from an operator. The dams are fabricated using advanced engineering polymers and are thus suitable for use where elimination of contamination is essential.

FIG 2 Example of the PurgElite® 7 range of fully integrated systems covering the 25 to 250 mm pipe range. Complementary systems are available covering the diameter range between 150 and 2440 mm.

Purge gas oxygen content can be controlled by using an oxygen monitor. These instruments not only measure oxygen levels but can inhibit welding if the level is above that set by the operator. Recording and analysing software provides information for quality control purposes. 


Even very low oxygen concentrations in weld gases can give rise to discolouration, loss of corrosion resistance and reduction in mechanical strength. Controlling oxygen level in purge gas can be effected simply and efficiently using contemporary integrated purge systems.

FIG 3 Oxygen monitor designed specifically for use in a welding environment. The PurgEye® 7 range is capable of measuring residual oxygen content down to 10 ppm.


  1. World Nuclear Power Reactors & Uranium Requirements, World Nuclear Association, November 2016
  2. Analysis of Globally Installed Coal Fired Power Plant, Finkenrath et al, International Energy Agency,2012
  3. BS EN ISO 13916:1997: ‘Welding: Guidance on the measurement of preheating temperature, British Standards Institution, 1997.
  4. BS EN 1011-2: 2001: ‘Welding: Recommendations for welding of metallic materials. Arc welding of ferritic steels’, British Standards Institution, 2001.
  5. The Welding Institute. Technical-knowledge series.
  6. Bailey, N. Weldability of Ferritic Steels. The Welding Institute, 1995.
  7. Huntingdon Fusion Techniques Ltd, UK. huntingdonfusion.com

Readiness To Supply Ventilators & Ventilator Components

The UK Government is looking for businesses who can support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components across the UK as part of our response to COVID-19.

There is a requirement for Design, Manufacture and Supply of the following medical devices or component parts :

  •  Air Compressors/ Pumps
  • Gas mixing valves
  • Solenoid valves
  • Industrial Automation components (safety Relays, PLCs)
  • Linear actuators and controllers
  • Oxygen Sensors and Indicators
  • Heat and moisture exchanging filters (HMEFs)
  • Bellows
  • Pressure Regulators
  • Pressure relief valves
  • Power Supplies
  • Tubing and fittings
  • Flow Sensors and Indicators
  • Air Filters, HEPA Filters
  • Self-inflating bags
  • Flow Control valves
  • Check valves/ one-way valves
  • Electric Motors, and motor controllers
  • Pressure Sensors and Indicators
  • Manometers

As well as manufacturers, they are looking for businesses with the following skills:

  • design/specification
  • rapid prototyping
  • contract/product assembly
  • certification/regulation/testing
  • logistics
  • medical training

Vessco Engineering Ltd is a featured Tier 2 Supplier to HPC. Vessco is just one of an increasing number of Wales based companies supplying the Hinkley Point C nuclear new build project. EDF have produced a supply chain map which indicates that 100 Welsh companies already supply goods and services to HPC.

WNF is dedicated to increasing both the number of Wales based suppliers to HPC and the total value of contacts.

Vessco Engineering started approaching EDF, Alstom Power Systems and Rolls-Royce in 2010 just as the UK Government was contemplating a resurgence of new build activity in the new build nuclear sector. This culminated in civil nuclear approved supplier status for both Alstom and Rolls-Royce in 2012. As the parties stuttered towards a final investment decision in 2017 Vessco Engineering alongside hundreds of companies throughout the UK continued to make overtures to the prospective Tier One suppliers to HPC and EDF directly. The Wales Nuclear Forum was formed during that period with the aim of galvanising a sustained effort by Wales based businesses to gain contracts at HPC and prospective sites at Wylfa and NuGen in Cumbria.

The disappointing news regarding postponement at Wylfa and abandonment of the NuGen proposals at the end of 2018 / early 2019 cast a shadow over the civil nuclear resurgence in the UK. However, the development at HPC is now in full swing and advanced plans exist for new sites at Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell, Essex. There is still time for WNF members to gain new business at HPC and everything to push for at SZC and Bradwell B.

Vessco Engineering gained its first multi-million pound contract for GE in December 2017, this was followed by contracts with Ovivo UK Ltd and Balfour Beatty. Vessco’s workforce numbers and turnover have more than doubled since its involvement in nuclear new build and future prospects are encouraging.

Within Wales the civil nuclear sector activity is centred on decommissioning at Trawsfynydd and Wylfa and plans for small modular reactors particularly at Traws. There are currently around 1,500 people working in the civil nuclear sector in Wales.

Wales Nuclear Forum Quarterly Meeting - IMPORTANT - UPDATE -

In light of growing concerns about Coronavirus, the WNF Steering Group has taken the decision to postpone the event planned for the 19th of March.  The meeting will instead take place on Thursday 21st of May at Wrexham Glyndŵr University.  

More details will be issued very soon. 

If you have registered to attend the event we will carry forward your registration to May 21st but if for any reason you are unable to attend the rearranged date, let us know.  Similarly, if you have booked an exhibition stand this will also be carried forward to the next event.  Again, please let us know if you do not wish us to do that.

We apologise for any inconvenience and thank you very much for your understanding.

Map Showing Nuclear Power Stations in the UK

The United Kingdom is a pioneer of nuclear technologies and opened the world’s first commercial nuclear power station in 1956, at Calder Hall near Sellafield in Cumbria. Nuclear power has delivered great benefits: it has supported national defence, generated electricity for more than 60 years and our country remains a world-leading nuclear enterprise.

Today the UK is faced with the challenge of cleaning up the legacy of its early nuclear operations – a large-scale programme undertaken by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). This includes delivering innovative solutions for managing radioactive waste that meet today’s safety standards and will protect us into the distant future.

UK Government policy is to have a wide mix of energy supplies, so we use nuclear alongside other energy sources, such as gas and solar. Today, nuclear energy generates around one fifth of the country’s electricity, and under current government proposals that include Hinkley Point C, some of our power will come from nuclear sources in the future.

There are important reasons why nuclear is part of the mix:

  • it’s a low carbon choice that supports the UK’s climate change goals: nuclear power stations generate electricity without emitting greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane

  • nuclear power plants produce electricity 24 hours a day, whatever the weather

  • nuclear power plants don’t require a daily supply of new fuel to operate, unlike gas, coal and biomass plant

Huntingdon Fusion Techniques were thrilled to be announced as Finalists in the ‘Export of Business of the Year’ category at the Welsh Business Awards at the start of 2020.

The Awards Ceremony took place at Cardiff City Hall where business leaders gathered for a drinks reception before taking their seats in the beautiful banqueting hall.   Serenaded by a saxophonist and trumpet players everybody waited in anticipation for the Awards part of the evening, hosted by Gethin Jones, to get underway.

We are very pleased to announce that we won ‘Export Business of the Year’. We are delighted to be recognised for this Award as 85% of our sales turnover is made up of export business. Our business model is to sell our range of pipe purging equipment via a network of Exclusive Distributors of which we have 45 worldwide.   Much of our time is devoted to assisting these Distributors by making joint visits to customers to perform demonstrations, attending Exhibitions and participating in Welsh Government led Trade Missions.

Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, presented the Award to CEO Georgia Gascoyne and Technical Sales Manager, Luke Keane.

The icing on the cake was the final Award of the evening, when Heather Myers, CEO South Wales Chamber of Commerce, announced that Georgia was being given the prestigious Presidents Award saying her dedication to the business and drive for success is commendable. Paul Slevin, President, South Wales Chamber of Commerce presented an astonished Georgia with the Award.  The team at HFT could not be more proud of her achievement.

Thank you to the South Wales Chamber of Commerce for a wonderful evening of celebrations, with many Welsh business success stories and an overwhelming sense of pride in the room.


-Georgia Gascoyne, WNF Steering Group member

Kevin Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Georgia Gascoyne, HFT CEO & Managing Director, and Luke Keane, HFT Technical Sales Manager.

Our Energy System Needs To Change

By 2050, we need to have a net zero carbon economy, to protect our environment for future generations. That means we need to generate much more energy from low carbon sources.

But we also need a reliable, home-grown source of power, especially as electricity will power heat and transport.

And our energy systems needs to create prosperity across the UK, offering life-changing opportunities to tens of thousands of people.

Nuclear energy is a low carbon, reliable, home-grown supply of power. The sector creates high quality direct and indirect employment for around 155,000 people.

It’s time to Rediscover Nuclear.

Contact Us

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